Greer Now: Australian Feminist Studies uncovers the archival traces of Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer is undoubtedly one of the West’s most iconic feminists and is seen as a figurehead of second-wave of feminism. Despite sometimes being cast as a divisive figure, Greer has been instrumental in pushing feminist thought into the contemporary political, public and intellectual mainstream.
In October 2013, the University of Melbourne announced that it had purchased Germaine Greer’s personal papers, reportedly totalling 150 filing cabinets worth of drafts, notes, personal letters, memorabilia and media coverage.
Many authors who have contributed to a recent themed issue of Australian Feminist Studies have had access to these previously unseen archival materials, particularly those concerned with the development of the manuscript that became The Female Eunuch. Author Marilyn Lake provides new insights into the genesis of this prolific title, illuminating media strategies that ensured the book became an iconic feminist text.
Within this themed issue, new insights are offered into Greer’s theories of female sexuality. Megan Le Masurier’s article argues that Greer’s ideas about sexuality are worth resurrecting and integrating into our understanding of second wave feminist sexual politics. Petra Mosmann’s article explores the intersection of fashion and feminist movements by analysing Greer’s paisley coat, as featured in Vogue and Life magazines in May 1971.
Authors Rebecca J. Sheehan and Isobelle Barrett Meyering reflect on the under examined aspects of Greer's early career, including how American television audiences responded to her and how rivalry was fuelled between Greer and Arianna Stassinopoulos (now Arianna Huffington), author of The Female Woman (1973).
The figure of Germaine Greer highlights for us the complexity of the terms that join together feminism as a political and intellectual project. Editors Anthea Taylor, Maryanne Dever and Lisa Adkins highlight how “Greer troubles distinctions between the academic and the popular, the authentic and the non-authentic, the celebrity and the scholar, history and memory, and the past and the present.”
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